4 Philadelphia Phillies Philly's cast features a few rising stars but a few too many star-crossed pitchers

March 29, 1999
March 29, 1999

Table of Contents
March 29, 1999

Faces In The Crowd
1999 Baseball Preview

4 Philadelphia Phillies Philly's cast features a few rising stars but a few too many star-crossed pitchers

If the Phillies ever stage a production of Damn Yankees, the
seemingly logical choice to play the role of Lola, the musical's
manipulative femme fatale, would be Scott Rolen. After all, the
23-year-old third baseman did hit up the Philadelphia front
office for a four-year, $10 million contract before the start of
last season, though he had all of 193 major league games under
his belt. This February, a few months after Rolen reportedly
said he couldn't see himself spending his career with the
Phillies if they continued to play on artificial turf, the team
unveiled plans for a new, natural-grass stadium tentatively
scheduled to open in 2002 or 2003. To paraphrase a verse from
the show: Whatever Rolen wants, Rolen gets....

This is an article from the March 29, 1999 issue Original Layout

But, in truth, Rolen doesn't really fit the role of
high-maintenance vamp. The contract, it turns out, was as much a
priority for the Phillies as it was for Rolen. And his complaint
about the turf at Veterans Stadium? That was a slipup by pitcher
Curt Schilling who repeated a remark Rolen had made to him in
private. "We know Scott doesn't make demands," says Phillies
G.M. Ed Wade. "He just shows up, puts his uniform on and plays
hard every day. We'll bend over backwards to do what we can for

Good strategy. Rolen followed up his 1997 Rookie of the Year
campaign by improving virtually every aspect of his game. His
110 RBIs made him the youngest player in club history to knock
in 100 runs in a season. That RBI total, combined with his 31
homers and 45 doubles, made him the first Phillie to reach 100
RBIs, 30 homers and 40 doubles in a season since Chuck Klein did
it in 1932. Throw in a Gold Glove (the only other 23-year-old
third baseman to have won one is Brooks Robinson), and $10
million for four years suddenly looks like a bargain.

Rolen is surrounded by a promising supporting cast.
Twenty-five-year-old rightfielder Bobby Abreu, in his first year
as an every-day player last season, never saw his average fall
below .300, and he led the majors in batting with runners in
scoring position (.427). "He's going to be a star in
Philadelphia," says Phillies manager Terry Francona. "A lot of
people don't see it yet, but he's got a bubbly personality. He
loves to play, loves to practice."

Rico Brogna, 28, knocked in a career-high 104 runs and caught
everything in sight at first base. The Philadelphia infielders
are so confident in Brogna's ability to scoop anything out of
the dirt that they don't worry about rushing a throw when a play
looks as if it might be close. Says Francona, "He drove in 100
runs and saved 100."

Whether Brogna and Rolen drive in 100 runs again depends on the
improvement of the guys at the top of the order. Leadoff man
Doug Glanville hit .279 but had an on-base percentage of only
.325. He and rookie second baseman Marlon Anderson, who will hit
second, walked a combined 71 times in 1,296 at bats last year.
By comparison, Rickey Henderson walked 118 times in fewer than
half as many at bats (542). "The first part of last year Doug
was swinging at balls over his head, but he was hitting
doubles,'' says Francona. "In the second half those balls
weren't falling, and that's when you start to notice [his
impatience at the plate]. When he and Anderson are going good,
we're really gonna be going good. But when they're struggling,
we're liable to have some quick innings."

When the Phillies are in the field, they're liable to have some
very long innings. After Schilling, the rotation will be filled
out by some combination of Paul Byrd, Mike Grace, Tyler Green,
Carlton Loewer, Chad Ogea, Cliff Politte and Paul Spoljaric--a
motley septet who have one 10-win season among them (Ogea, in
1996). Now there's speculation that Philadelphia will unload
Schilling, who has said that he'll waive his no-trade clause to
go to a contender. Wade is adamant that Schilling will be the
Phillies' Opening Day pitcher, but come July (if Philadelphia is
already out of the postseason picture, and when the offers for
the reigning National League strikeout champ are likely to be
sweeter), Wade will have to think long and hard about moving his

Wade has already begun making over the bullpen. First he traded
erratic closer Mark Leiter (a league-leading 12 blown saves) to
Seattle for Spoljaric, and then he sent former closer Ricky
Bottalico, who battled arm problems and Francona last season, to
St. Louis for declining slugger Ron Gant and reliever Jeff
Brantley, both of whom struggled miserably in '98. "Last year
was a joke," says Brantley, who blew eight of 22 save chances
after coming back from arm surgery that forced him to miss most
of 1997. Given enough time off between appearances, Brantley can
still be effective; his ERA was 2.19 when working on at least
three days' rest, but ballooned to 6.58 on two days rest or
less. Francona hopes that Brantley regained his arm strength in
the off-season, but even if he didn't, it might not make a
difference--with the rotation that the Phillies trot out, they
may only have one lead to protect every five days.

If two or three of the starters beyond Schilling pan out, the
Phillies have a shot at finishing with a winning record for just
the second time in 13 years. "I'm anxious to start winning,"
says Rolen. "The newness of just being here in the majors has
worn off. I'm tired of losing, and hopefully we'll take a step
to change that."

However, as young as the club is and as weak as its pitching is,
opposing fans likely won't have to resort to selling their souls
anytime soon to topple those damn Phillies.

--Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: RICH PILLING/MLB PHOTOS Rolen, a rock at the hot corner, has been secured as the cornerstone of the rebuilt Phillies, who were only too glad to pay the price to keep him.COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES

By the Numbers

1998 Team Statistics (NL rank)
1998 record: 75-87 (third in NL East)

HOME RUNS 126 (14)
OPP. BATTING AVG. .262 (9)
ERA 4.64 (14)
FIELDING PCT. .982 (9)

Sophomore Surge

Among the 79 nonpitchers who have won the Rookie of the Year
Award in either league, only eight have had sophomore seasons in
which they improved their statistics in each of the Triple Crown
categories, as both Scott Rolen and 1997 AL Rookie of the Year
Nomar Garciaparra did last year. No Rookie of the Year has
improved in all three of those categories in each of his next
two seasons.


Scott Rolen, Phillies 1997 .283 21 92
Second Season 1998 .290 31 110
Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox 1997 .306 30 98
Second Season 1998 .323 35 122
Chuck Knoblauch, Twins 1991 .281 1 50
Second Season 1992 .297 2 56
John Castino, Twins 1979 .285 5 52
Second Season 1980 .302 13 64
Bob Horner, Braves 1978 .266 23 63
Second Season 1979 .314 33 98
Orlando Cepeda, Giants 1958 .312 25 96
Second Season 1959 .317 27 105
Johnny Bench, Reds 1968 .275 15 82
Second Season 1969 .293 26 90
Jim Lefebvre, Dodgers 1965 .250 12 69
Second Season 1966 .274 24 74

Next Up...

Second baseman Marlon Anderson made his own home run history
last Sept. 8, when he became just the sixth National League
player to hit a pinch-hit homer in his first major league at
bat. The blast didn't draw much attention, though, as it came on
the same night Mark McGwire hit his historic 62nd dinger of the
season. Anderson spent most of last year at Triple A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he hit .306 and set team records in
hits (176), runs (104) and total bases (284). "He was the most
exciting player in our league," says Marc Bombard, his manager
at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. "I think he can be one of those guys
like Curt Schilling, a guy you'd pay to see."

Projected Roster With 1998 Statistics

Manager: Terry Francona (third season with Philadelphia)


CF Doug Glanville R 93 .279 8 49 23
2B Marlon Anderson (R)* L-R 132 .306 16 86 24
3B Scott Rolen R 26 .290 31 110 14
1B Rico Brogna L 99 .265 20 104 7
LF Ron Gant[1] R 81 .240 26 67 8
RF Bobby Abreu L-R 68 .312 17 74 19
C Mike Lieberthal R 157 .256 8 45 2
SS Desi Relaford S-R 207 .245 5 41 9


IF Kevin Jordan R 265 .276 2 27 0
OF Kevin Sefcik R 330 .314 3 20 4
OF Rob Ducey[1] L-R 361 .240 5 23 4
IF Alex Arias R 387 .293 1 16 2
C Tom Prince[1] R 421 .185 0 5 0


RH Curt Schilling 12 15 14 7.7 1.11 3.25
RH Paul Byrd 104 5 2 6.9 1.11 2.68
RH Chad Ogea[1] 123 5 4 5.3 1.43 5.61
RH Carlton Loewer 137 7 8 5.8 1.57 6.09
LH Paul Spoljaric[1] 148 4 6 4.4 1.68 6.48


RH Jeff Brantley[1] 94 0 5 14 1.14 4.44
RH Wayne Gomes 151 9 6 1 1.38 4.24
LH Yorkis Perez 244 0 2 0 1.25 3.81
RH Mike Grace 310 4 7 0 1.62 5.48
RH Ken Ryan 320 0 0 0 1.81 4.37
LH Jim Poole[1][#] 341 1 3 0 1.50 5.14

[1]New acquisition (R) Rookie B-T: Bats-throws
IPS: Innings pitched per start
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched

PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 154)
*Triple A stats [#]Combined AL and NL stats